Groups left moneyless by budget cutbacks

Some of Florida A&M University’s activities and services organizations have been silenced this spring because of late releases and budget cutbacks from the FAMU Student Government Association.

An over-projection of A&S funds by the university budget office for this year caused organizations to scale back their budgets for this semester. However, the mid-year cutback caused SGA to reevaluate each organization to proportionally balance the budget based on need.

According to the SGA “Spring 2006 Release Summary,” Orchesis Dance Theatre, the FAMU Union Board of Advisors and all student media outlets are some of the organizations that have not yet received funding. Of the $453,323.35 available for release, only $345,361.57 has been disbursed to Activities & Services organizations. That means $107,961.78 still remains.

“There are two rounds of release of funds and we are now in the second one,” said Dwayne Cole, SGA adviser.

Cole said the absence of the director of budgeting and the week of spring break delayed allocation, but a disbursement should occur soon.

“Any organization that has not received their money should have it by Monday,” Cole said. “We are trying not to run a deficit in the funds. That’s why some organizations have received a cut.”

A few student organizations are forced to put their activities on hold.

“Financially, we are truly suffering and it is hurting our progress,” said George Olokun, a 21-year-old political science student from Atlanta.

Olokun, the chairman of the FAMU Union Board of Advisors, said that he has continually met with Cole, but there has not been a resolution.

“I was told that there would be a release of the funds, but we have not yet been given the release,” said Olokun. “Due to this, we are not able to continue our programs for the students.”

On March 15, members of Journey magazine and other student media outlets addressed their concerns during the 35th Student Senate meeting.

The magazine is expecting a $7,454 disbursement from SGA.

A memorandum released by Cole said out of the more than $70,000 money requests from members of FAMU student media, only $52,614 is “available for release for this class of agencies.”

Representatives of Journey magazine were told they would receive that amount.

However, that amount will not allow for the production of the two remaining issues of the magazine that are scheduled.

“At this point we are trying to come up with some financial alternatives,” said Robbyn Mitchell, 20.

Mitchell, the editor in chief of Journey magazine, along with other members of the magazine, is trying to come up with ideas to produce the final issues.

“Seeing that is so late in the semester, I am not sure if I can make the provisions. We are going to try to do our best to raise money for Journey,” Mitchell said. “I just hope that we will able to pull this off.”

Members of SGA said that there are possible alternatives for the organizations to raise the money they are in dire need.

“Outside sources could be an option for organizations to raise money,” said Cole. “I feel very bad to say it, but that is the only advice I can give at this time.”

Ebony Ivory, a 21-year-old business administration student from Fort Lauderdale, said it might take members of SGA to make certain sacrifices in order to support the student media. “I am paid $300 every two weeks for my position and in my heart I feel some of us can take pay cuts in order to help organizations that need it,” Ivory said.

Dwayne D. Cole said that next year, SGA is planning to bring in someone skilled to find sponsorships and maintaining the relationships with them.

“This will do a better job in raising funds for our A&S agencies,” Cole said. “I feel very confident that the sponsors will support our programs.”

Contact Nyerere Davidson at